How to Cook Lamb Shanks
This is a simple restaurant quality recipe for Lamb Shanks in Wine Sauce.
Servings: 4 people
For the shanks
- 2 Lamb Shanks - prepared
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 medium onion - quartered
- 2 small carrots - cut in half
- 4 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 32 oz chicken broth
- 2 Cups red wine if not using wine, substitute 2 Cups more chicken broth
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika regular paprika is ok
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 Tbsp tomato paste
- Salt and Pepper to taste
For the wine sauce
- ½ cup water
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
For the Lamb Shanks
In a large frying pan or in the bottom of the dutch oven, heat the olive oil until shimmering. When the oil is hot, add the prepared lamb shanks (tendon cut, silver skin removed and salt and pepper sprinkled over both) one at a time and brown on each side. Once browned, remove to a plate.
Add the onion, carrot and garlic and brown until each has some browned color to it.
Add the flour and stir. Allow the flour to cook on the veggies for about a minute. Add the tomato paste.
Add the chicken broth all at once. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any stuck on bits from the bottom of the pan. (If using a crockpot, pour all of the ingredients into the crockpot at at this point).
Add the lamb shanks back to the liquid.
Add the wine, coriander, cumin, paprika, thyme and bay leaves. Cover. If using crockpot, then cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. If using a dutch oven, place in the oven on 160 and cook for 4 hours. Lamb is ready when the meat is nearly falling off of the bone. (Pulls away from the bone easily with a fork).
For the wine sauce.
When the lamb meat is done, remove the shanks and any loose meat from the cooking vessel. Strain the liquid that is in the cooking vessel through a fine mesh sieve and reserve the liquid. You can discard the solid vegetable pieces.
At this point, I put the lamb back in the liquid, allow it to cool and then place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, I spoon the fat off of the top of the cooled liquid. Then reheat the contents. It is also fine to simply proceed with the directions. If you do so, the sauce will be more fatty and greasy.
Place the liquid back in the dutch oven and place on the stove top (if you have used a crockpot, put the liquid in a large skillet or saucepan). Set on medium.
Heat till bubbling. Allow to reduce until about ½ of the original amount.
Mix ½ cup of cool water with 3 tbsp of cornstarch and mix till no lumps are visible (it will look like milk if you have mixed it correctly). Add this to the bubbling liquid and mix well (but gently). Liquid should thicken over the next few minutes.
Reduce heat and replace the shanks back in the liquid. Serve when lamb is reheated and is warm throughout.
This recipe contains directions for both crockpot/ slow cooker and dutch oven. Either is fine for this recipe. You will dirty more dishes if you use a crockpot/slow cooker.
Please note that you should start this recipe the day BEFORE you plan to serve the dish.
This works in your favor in TWO ways:
1. You can serve this for a dinner party and all you will have left to do to the main course is to make the sauce and heat the meat through!
2. You will be able to spoon off the extra fat - this makes a much nicer sauce that is less "gamey" tasting - that lamb "gamey" taste that many people complain about is mostly in the fat.
Preparing the lamb
- Make sure the clean the lamb shanks as I described. They will be too fatty and greasy and have too many tendons and clingy silver skin if you don’t. Ewww.
- I think it is best to cook them first and then allow them to sit overnight in the fridge if you possibly can. Not everyone can do that, but believe me, it’s best and you won’t be sorry. Hey! If you are making these for a dinner party - that part will be over and you’ll only have the sauce to worry with on party day!
- For the BEST results, choose lamb shanks that are as close to the same size as possible. In this case, you can see that my lamb shanks were quite different in size. You can see from the photos that the small lamb shank did actually fall off of the bone. No worried about over cooking - its just better if they are the same size. That wasn't possible for what I had to choose from.
- Sometimes the meat DOES fall off the bone - don’t worry about it if this happens to you - just put it all on the grits/potatoes/ starch of your choice.
- Just fyi - lamb has a different taste than beef or pork. If you haven’t ever eaten lamb before, this would be a good first dish - make sure to get that fat and silver skin off - I think that must be where some of the lamby taste comes from.
- If you need MORE than 2 shanks - that is fine! Simply prepare more! This recipe will easily handle at least 6 shanks and there will still be sauce left over!
- These are EXCELLENT over a parmesan polenta (which is just like fixing grits - if you are a southern gal like me), they are, coincidentally WONDERFUL over parmesan grits and PERFECT over some parmesan mashed potatoes. I haven’t tried them over noodles - but I bet - wow. I would try some garlic,buttery noodles. Rice? Same.
- You will want to pair with a bitter green - my advice, anyway. Like an arugula salad - with parmesan curls, of course!
- Wine - just choose a red wine that you would drink at the table too. Aldi makes some good low price options as does Trader Joes. At Trader Joes, go for the Charles Schwab (we lovingly call it 2 buck chuck). For these photos, I used Blackstone Merlot 2014 - about $10 per bottle at Sam’s Club. Very good in my opinion and fairly inexpensive. I’m a white wine drinker and I like this particular red.
If you DON’T WANT TO COOK WITH THE WINE, simply substitute with chicken broth in the same amounts. That’s fine.
If you are serving MORE than 2 people - just prepare more shanks. There is WAY more than enough sauce to go around! This recipe will easily handle 6 shanks.
Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 1057mg | Potassium: 867mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 4667IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 4mg